After the card show I attended last month and my recent garage sale haul for the ages, it's safe to say that I'm buried in an avalanche of cardboard right now.
So, naturally, where was I a couple Sundays ago? You guessed it: another card show. I managed to get the day off work to attend a smaller hotel show in the area, the same one I attended at the dawn of the new year back in January. I figured going again here in December would make for a nice bookend to 2016.
I guess the cardboard gods wanted me to work for this one, as we got our first snowstorm of the winter on the very same afternoon as the show. Here's what it looked like as seen from the suburban Culver's where Dad and I enjoyed our tasty post-show meal.
As you might imagine, driving in such weather wasn't particularly fun, but even after a little slipping and sliding, Dad and I rolled into the hotel parking lot right on time.
Turns out I wasn't the only one unfazed by the snowflakes.
I've hit this show a handful of times now, and this latest gathering was probably the most well-attended one I've seen yet. It was rather comforting to see a roomful of devoted collectors out there like myself willing to brave a snowstorm for an afternoon of digging through cardboard.
With the room pulsing and the radiator on, I went to work. It didn't take long for the gems to start appearing, like this awesome dollar-box vinyl/cardboard mashup of the Iron Man. It's only the second card I own from this "Greatest Hits" insert set, the other being a Pedro Martinez...which I found at this very same show back in January.
Funny how that happens.
Hotel shows are always good for a nice array of dime boxes.
While not particularly exciting, baseball cards of commissioners are indeed rare, which convinced me to drop an FDR on Fan Favorite(?) Fay Vincent. I initially thought the Joyner was one of those '90s prepaid phone cards, but a closer inspection upon returning home later that afternoon actually revealed it to be a magnet.
So that begs the question: are magnets baseball cards?
I say yes.
As always, discount bin shiny is a must at any card show.
Minis of probably my two favorite Japanese imports: Nomo a dime, Ichiro a dollar.
Looks like my dream of seeing Ichiro on the '75 Topps design has finally come true.
Online-only Heritage High Numbers for a quarter a piece?
Mr. Samardzija should tell you how I feel about that.
The Henderson is a tough '90s insert from the dollar box, but the real reason I bought it was because you don't see too many cards of Rickey as an Angel.
Also: WHY DID NO ONE TELL ME KAWASAKI HAD ANOTHER CARD ON THE MARKET THIS WHOLE TIME?!
(Most excited you'll ever see me about anything from Prizm.)
An ace pitcher and his personal catcher, forever united in baseball history and this scan.
The Lester rookie was a steal at a dollar (especially in Chicago), and the Ross -- which will likely go down as one of his sunset issues -- was a sweet dime find since I just decided to start collecting Grandpa Rossy.
The Fowler -- another (former) Cub I recently decided to collect -- was a Dime Box Dozen need since I had the gold parallel of that one without owning the base card, and you know how frustrating that is.
I usually pass on Panini from the dollar box, but I've become a sucker for anything of Mr. Rizzo, especially cards from his unfamiliar, pre-Chicago days.
I didn't find as many mini-collection hits as I'd hoped, but then again, I didn't get completely shut out.
If you want to feel old, Shawon Dunston Jr. will be entering his sixth season of minor league ball next year.
I've said before that one of my dreams is to find an entire dime box filled with Topps Retired Signature, because gosh these cards are beautiful.
That's not quite what happened at this time around, but I did manage to dig up a handful from an all-retired player dime box I stumbled upon about halfway through the show.
But I still have this strange feeling that a Retired Signature dime box is out there somewhere, waiting...
Vendors at most card shows seem to have a good amount of newer product on hand, but these smaller hotel gatherings seem to specifically revolve around the latest and greatest.
Besides, it's about that time when people are already starting to prepare for the upcoming card season, and are thus even more eager to unload their remaining stock from the year prior at quite fair prices.
This beautiful Jose Fernandez insert from 2016 Chrome (numbered to 99 copies) unintentionally serves as a touching tribute to the late hurler, and I was more than willing to fork over a buck for it.
I can't say I'm particularly excited for 2017 Heritage ('68 burlaps...ugh), so I'm soaking up leftovers from 2016 while I can.
Ramirez and the Abreu (a short-print) were a dime per, and the chrome/chrome refractor Wrights were a quarter a piece.
Between those and the purple refractor I picked up a couple months ago, I think I've somehow stumbled into building a Steven Wright Heritage rainbow.
I dug through so many 2016 singles at this show that I started to see spots when it was all over.
Of the dozen-ish vendors present, I'd say at least nine or ten of them had a fair amount of 2016 inventory on hand. I saw some of the same cards five or six different times from five or six different tables.
Not surprisingly, I managed to knock out a hefty amount of my 2016 needs throughout the course of the day, nearly all (including the nine you see above) courtesy of the dime boxes.
I also got my first look at a 2016 set I hadn't yet sampled: Topps Gold Label.
The reincarnation of this brand looks a lot like its older counterpart, though the cards aren't as glossy or as thick as the early-2000s editions. The revival also follows the same hierarchy as the past sets, in that the checklist is divided into three "classes" with players receiving three different base card variations spanning across said classes (as seen with the Class 1 & 2 Todd Fraziers here).
I don't see myself ever splurging on a pack of something like this, but finding dozens of them in the dime stacks sure is good for a cheap thrill.
But it wasn't all about the base cards.
The six inserts in this page were all a dime a piece, while the Maeda, Arrieta, and Mad-Bum parallels at the bottom set me back a buck each.
I came across this card at one of the last dime boxes of the show.
I came awfully close to passing it up without a second thought. I do, after all, already own a copy of Carlos Rodon's Series 2 base card. But then I noticed something strange: what's with that retro Topps logo in the top-left corner?
And hey, why does this card feel thicker and less glossy than all the others?
Because it's a throwback Topps parallel, limited to 99 copies!
I don't know about you, but I had no idea these even existed. Neither did this particular vendor, apparently, because I think it would've cost a bit more than a dime if he did.
And the dime box gods throw another little trinket my way.
One of the first vendors I hit had a box of cards that were either a quarter each, or 7/$1.
These Goudey reprints ended up comprising the bulk of my quarter finds from him, a bargain considering I don't own a whole lot of cards of guys like Sad Sam Jones and Fred Lindstrom in the first place.
But while I may love reprints...
...there was still some, you know, actual vintage to be had at this show, despite the flurry of the latest and greatest.
Granted, even for someone as passive about condition as I am, I had to think twice about buying Fergie here. In the end, however, I forked over 50 cents for it because you have to admire the previous owner's determination to eliminate every single scrap of evidence that Jenkins was ever a Chicago Cub. Heck, he/she even went so far as to scratch out the little logo on Fergie's hat.
At worst, it'll serve as a placeholder until I can track down a more passable copy, which might not be easy since this is a dreaded high-number (#640) from the '69 set.
Here's a pair of '77s I couldn't believe I didn't already own.
The Baylor was a buck, and at 75 cents, the Yount adds to the formidable collection of Robins I've started to accumulate over the past year or so.
A couple for the vintage oddball files.
I fell in love with the SSPC Dave Parker at first sight, a no-brainer buy at a buck. The Kellogg's Fisk came from a vendor who was mostly trying to pass dime box fodder off as "rare" five-dollar cards.
At just $1.50, though, Pudge somehow slipped through the cracks, and I was more than happy to rescue him from the rest of those overpriced atrocities.
At a buck a piece, I'm always in the market for these fantastic Nu-Scoops oddballs, even ones with surprisingly dark, career-ending headlines.
At last, we've come to the end of this snowy show with a card I've had on my radar for much of 2016.
Like Robin Yount, I've made a concerted effort to pick up more Wade Boggs cards this year. A glaring hole in that budding collection was perhaps the most famous Boggs of them all, his '83 Topps rookie. This is (was) one of those aggravating examples of a card I'd owned multiple reprints of without ever tracking down an original copy.
At $4.50 (half off the $9 price tag), I finally put an end to all that annoyance and got myself the real thing, a stellar way to cap off the last card show of 2016.
Rumor says we're supposed to be in for a particularly brutal winter this year. We had a second bad snowstorm in my neck of the woods this past weekend, and they're predicting negative temps around here later in the week.
Between two card shows and a garage sale, it sure looks like I picked a good time to bury myself in a fort of cardboard.